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Minister Podgoršek at a meeting with the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides

Today, Minister Jože Podgoršek held a meeting by video conference with the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides. They discussed Slovenia's priorities during the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Minister Podgoršek at a meeting with European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides

Minister Podgoršek at a meeting with European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides | Author MKGP

Today, Minister Jože Podgoršek held a meeting by video conference with the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides. They discussed Slovenia's priorities during the Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Minister Podgoršek opened by saying to the Commissioner that Slovenia has been working intensely to prepare for the Presidency. He stressed that we are aware that cooperation with the Commission is important for the successful accomplishment of tasks.

The Minister also presented to the Commissioner the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency in the field of health and food safety.

Food safety

Slovenia will devote utmost attention to ensure food safety for consumers and traceability, the indications of origin and effective inspections. In relation to trade agreements that influence the agricultural sector, it is important to protect the high EU standards, in particular in veterinary matters: the phytosanitary and sanitary standards, the legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the level of animal welfare protection.

Slovenia will strive for progress in preparing the changes for labelling honey blends in response to changing consumer expectations about food origin labelling.

Taking into account the recent study of the European Commission on new genomic techniques, Slovenia considers it necessary to uniformly regulate the products obtained by new genomic techniques at the EU level. This is generally a sensitive topic.

Animal welfare

During its Presidency of the Council of the EU, Slovenia will direct the discussion according to the report on the evaluation of the legislation in this field and the topical issues. The European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry on the Protection of Animals during Transport (ANIT) plans to publish the report by the end of the year.

As the presiding country, Slovenia is prepared to actively participate in two events in the field of animal welfare: the evaluation of the legislation on animal protection and the meeting of stakeholders, which is scheduled for December this year.

Animal health

An important milestone in animal health was reached in April this year as updated rules came into force as a result of many years of work of the Commission and the Member States. A six-month period for a more gentle transition to the use of the new rules expires during the Slovenian Presidency.

We also expect enhanced cross-border cooperation for preventing the spread of some animal diseases (e.g. the African swine fever).

Digitalisation in the veterinary service

During its preparations for the Presidency, Slovenia identified the main topic for a discussion at meetings of the working group of Chief Veterinary Officers (CVO) – the digitalisation in the veterinary service. The possibilities of using various data, which the European veterinary services collect daily for ensuring transparency in food safety, animal health and animal welfare, are explored in this framework.

The topic of digitalisation also corresponds to the principles of the European Green Deal and, in particular, the Farm to Fork Strategy, which include digitalisation in all areas of activity of the European Union.

Plant health

Slovenia will continue discussions on topics in relation to the preparedness to implement measures in case of introduction of dangerous diseases and plant pest and measures to prevent their introduction, and discussions on topical issues in plant health. The priority of Slovenia will also be to coordinate and represent EU positions in discussions on the development of global and regional standards in the area.

Plant protection products

We do not expect to treat priority legislative or non-legislative dossiers in this field during the Slovenian Presidency. However, Slovenia plans to participate at the third conference on the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD), which will be organised by the Commission during the Slovenian Presidency.

Other matters

Slovenia looks forward to the yearly conference on the Farm to Fork Strategy, which will be held in mid-October (14 and 15 October 2021).

Commissioner Kyriakides and Minister Podgoršek also touched on the question of amending the Official Controls Regulation. Slovenia is prepared to take over, if necessary, the dossier for amending the Regulation. The amendment process is supposed to be closed as quickly as possible, but the timeline for the adoption also depends on the progress made by the European Parliament.

In his discussion with Commissioner Kyriakides, Minister Podgoršek expressed his satisfaction with the cooperation in the field of food safety and invited the Commissioner to visit Slovenia.